Why I Left Apple Computer After Only 12 Days, In My Own Words
An Essay by Ronald G. Wayne
I didn’t separate myself from Apple because of any lack of enthusiasm for the concept of computer products. Aside from any immediate apprehension in regard to financial risks, I left because I didn’t feel that this new enterprise would be the working environment that I saw for myself, essentially for the rest of my days. I had every belief would be successful but I didn’t know when, what I’d have to give up or sacrifice to get there, or how long it would take to achieve that success.
In addition to my rather mundane daily activities during my time as an Apple Co-founder—a full time job at Atari working for Al Acorn and directly answerable to Nolan Bushnell as Atari’s International Field Service engineer—I was writing my treatise on the true nature of money, Insolence of Office.
At the time I was earning $22,000 a year—$88,000 a year in today’s money—we’ve had at least 400% inflation since that time. The Dow Jones had just broken a thousand points. Something Steve Jobs and I had discussed many times—Jobs had asked me if I had thought the Dow Jones would ever break a thousand points. I told him that it would break 1,000, then 5,000 thousand, and at some point in the future, 10,000 points. These types of conversations were typical of those Jobs and I would have over lunch at some of the local diners surrounding Los Gatos, during our time together at Atari.
To counter much that has been written in the press about me as of late, I didn't lose out on billions of dollars. That's a long stretch between 1976 and 2012. Apple went through a lot of hard times and many thought Apple would simply go out of business at various times in its maturity. I perhaps lost tens of millions of dollars. And quite honestly, between just you and me, it was character building.
If I had known it would make 300 people millionaires in only four years, I would have stayed those four years. And then I still would have walked away. Steve and Steve had their project. They wanted to change the world in their way. I wanted to change the world in my own.
My book Insolence of Office is the result of 40 years of research.
We’ve had a 2500% increase in inflation since the end of World War II. The $2,300—$800 and then later, another $1500—I received from Apple Inc. in 1976 would be roughly the same as $9,200 today. I’m sure you would agree with me that's not bad pay for only 12 days worth of work. However, that increase of inflation is something I predicted decades ago and the driving factors behind that inflation is something I discuss in great detail in my book.
I'm sure I've mentioned this to you before, as a belief that I truly hold (and I know this sounds arrogant as hell), but the writing and publication of Insolence is, in itself, enough to justify my existence on this planet.
For more on Ron Wayne, you may wish to read this interview by Engadget.